Alex Job Racing Qualifies on Front Row at Laguna in GTC Monterey, Calif., Alex Job Racing's (AJR) Butch Leitzinger will start from the front row in second position on the GTC grid for tomorrow's running of the American Le Mans Series (ALMS) ...
Alex Job Racing Qualifies on Front Row at Laguna in GTC
Monterey, Calif., Alex Job Racing's (AJR) Butch Leitzinger will start from the front row in second position on the GTC grid for tomorrow's running of the American Le Mans Series (ALMS) Monterey presented by Tequila Patron to be run at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. AJR teammates Bill Sweedler and Ricardo Gonzalez qualified in the eighth and ninth positions respectively.
Leitzinger and co-driver Juan Gonzalez (GTC Series points leaders) were able to establish a good baseline set-up on their No. 81 Mission Foods/Alex Job Racing/Porsche GT3 911 Cup car in yesterday's practice session. The cool temperatures, in the lower 60s, and higher than normal winds made for changing track conditions around the 2.2-mile, 11-turn circuit known for its famous Corkscrew Turn. Leitzinger posted a last lap qualifying time of 1:27.603 that give him a clear view of the first turn from his front row starting position. The duo will be going for their third win in as many races.
"I got a decent lap in the beginning," Leitzinger said. "The traffic started to get intermingled and I couldn't get a clean run at it again until the last lap, which put us into second. It took me that long to get a clear a lap. I thought I was positioned right and then someone would come out of the pits. We are still not on the ultimate pace. We need to find a little more speed. The team always do a great job of giving us a strong car off of the truck. We have made minor adjustments on the set-up, but we are pretty close. It is going well. It is usually a headache to setup a car here. The AJR guys have already had those headaches, so it makes our job easier. The race will be like Sebring. If we can stay out of trouble we should be on the podium. First and foremost we will need to stay out of other peoples accidents. We need to pay attention and keep our head on our shoulders."
"So far this weekend has been a big adjustment for me," Juan Gonzalez said. "It has been 11-years since I have been here last. It is a new car for me here. The elevation and the corners, you forget how big they are at this track. With this light car and little tires you have to run the car a little different. You are not only battling the traffic, but also the sand that is brought on the track from the other cars and the wind. We will go into race mode now and concentrate on strategy for the six-hours tomorrow."
Bill Sweedler will start the No. 23 Battery Tender/Tequila Patron/Alex Job Racing/Porsche 911 GT3 Cup entry from the fifth row on the strength of his 1:29.360 time. Sweedler shares the seat with Romeo Kapudija and Jan-Dirk Lueders.
"We are coming to grips with the handling of the 23 car," Sweedler said. "We have a pretty heavy push in the car and we are trying to dial that out. We are going to get the car race ready and push it to a good finish. In the race we will have to run consistently with no mistakes."
"We are struggling a little with the handling of the car," Kapudija said. "We are getting some under steer. The track is really dirty, a lot of gravel and sand everywhere. We made some changes that helped the car, but still have some work to do. Most of the high speed corners are affected by our under steer, especially the downhill left hander, Turn Nine. We also have a major push in Turn 11. In the race it is survival. We need to stay out of the gravel and keep it on the track."
"It is going alright so far," Lueders said. "I came here and had to learn the track as it is my first time racing at this circuit. The track is awesome it is a lot of fun. Turn Six and the Corkscrew are great corners. The car has a little turn in under steer that I am fighting. It is predictable and it doesn't surprise you. We need to find some more speed in the car for the race."
Battery Tender joined the list of official partners for the American Le Mans Series presented by Tequila Patron and sanctioning body International Motor Sports Association on Friday. A producer of a full line of battery chargers using the most advanced levels of technology, Battery Tender increased its participation in IMSA and the Series, one of IMSA's five sanctioned road-racing championships.
Ricardo Gonzalez will go away from the grid in his No. 80 Car Amigo/Alex Job Racing/Porsche 911 GT3 Cup car from the fifth row based upon his qualifying time of 1:29.547. Ricardo Gonzales is teamed with Luis Diaz and Rudolfo (Rudy) Junco for the race that will take the green flag at 2:30 p.m. PT and finish in the dark at 8:30 p.m.
"Well we are definitely not where we wanted to be," Ricardo Gonzalez said. "We've made small improvements throughout the weekend but we still have to be a lot faster to keep up with the guys up front in outright speed. I think that for the race we will have a pretty good package as all three of us are very consistent and we are all very close on times. If we can keep clean and with a good rhythm we can definitely be somewhere near the top after six-hours."
"I didn't get a lot of running today," Diaz said. "Tomorrow I'll have a chance to try out some of the changes that we've been talking about. We still have to find a lot of speed out there not only by improving the car but also in our driving. It's going to be a long race so luckily qualifying doesn't really matter too much here. A lot of people will make mistakes tomorrow and it is very important to stay out of trouble and be focused. This track has been very good to me in the past and despite a rough start to the weekend I'm still confident that we can climb to the front like we did at Long Beach."
"We have a good car for the race, it's comfortable to drive and all three of us have confidence in it so that will be a big plus," Junco said. "It will help us find a consistent and mistake free rhythm. It has been a steep learning curve for me since I had never driven this car before. The Porsche has certain characteristics that are very peculiar and it's just a matter of time and turning laps before I figure out what it needs to go fast."
Team owner Alex Job will have his three car armada poised for the six-hour run.
"We were really up and down in practice and qualifying," Job said. "Butch was able to cool his tires and get a clean lap at the end to put us on the front row, a tribute to his skill and veteran approach. He and Juan will run their typical consistent race and be in the thick of it at the end. The guys in the 23 car need to come together on their set-up. We have some work to do with them during the warm-up tomorrow morning. This track can be tricky with the elevation and the sand, but I know that they will be ready for the race. Ricardo, Luis and Rudy are getting on well. Rudy has shown he has no real rust on him speed wise and is a great addition to the 80 team. We will be ready for six-hours and whatever will come with that tomorrow."